Global News

New clusters mushrooming in Singapore foreign worker dorms

SINGAPORE has reportedly found two more clusters of Covid-19 infections in previously-cleared worker dormitories, a day after three other worker dorms that had previously been declared cleared were found to have virus clusters.

The city-state had 48 new cases on Thursday, with 41 of those in dorms, according to the Ministry of Health. New clusters have emerged at Cochrane Lodge II at Admiralty Road West and at Westlite Toh Guan dormitory at Toh Guan Road East, according to Channel News Asia. Cochrane Lodge II had seen more than 450 cases of the virus before it was declared cleared in June, CNA said, while Westlite Toh Guan had more than 1,200 cases linked to it before it was declared cleared last month.

Dorms housing the low-paid foreign workers that underpin Singapore’s construction and services sectors have made up the vast majority of the Southeast Asian country’s cases. An explosion in infections saw Singapore pivot to a more restrictive approach to the virus, imposing a lockdown in April that shuttered restaurants and offices and triggered a rethink of its testing strategy.

Economies and Covid-19 are inversely correlated. The less virus there is, the more economies can fully reopen. That’s particularly acute in trade-reliant places like Singapore.

So while the re-emergence of clusters in the dorms reflect the difficulties Singapore and other nations have in stamping out the virus, it raises questions on how soon the island city-state will fully normalise and reopen the economy amid an ongoing recession. Singapore’s government has pledged more than S$100 billion in aid to the economy, though Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned this week that the country can’t support such measures forever.

Infections in the broader community are currently less than a handful, prompting Singapore to relax some measures and reopen a few travel borders with countries that have the virus situation under control. Of the remaining seven cases of the 48 reported on Thursday, five were imported cases and two were in the community.

In addition, 137 people were discharged, bringing the total to 56,028 who have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals or community care facilities. – Bloomberg

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